Category Archives: Food
As George noted last week, Thanksgiving is finally here! And I can hardly believe it – feels like it was NYE 2011 just the other day! Regardless, it’s great for me because Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday. Any day that I can eat delicious food to my heart’s content, spend time with my favorite people and drink amazing wines is a great day by me. This year, I’ll be attending two Thanksgiving feasts which is pretty much double the fun. I’ll really have to pace myself, that’s for sure.
This year, I’m really looking forward to dessert (which probably comes as no surprise to those who know me). I’ve found a scrumptious Paula Deen recipe laden with cream cheese, pumpkin and sugar that I’m hoping will take top prize in the annual dessert competition. As a bonus, it’s an homage to one of my best friends (and college roommate) who used to bake a traditional St. Louis-style gooey butter cake every time she went home for the holidays – and brought back the ooey, gooey, goodness when she returned to school each January. Needless to say, that cake was always devoured within about an hour after her arrival back on campus…it’s just THAT good. Now I’m trying my baking hand at it with the addition of pumpkin. I fully expect that to tip this dessert off the charts. Wish me luck in the competition.
As for the wine? Guess it’s time to raid the cellar and pick out a few special bottles. It’s always a treat to open those bottles that I’ve been saving for a special occasion – what better occasion than a fantastic feast with family and friends?
So this year, this Thanksgiving, I’m incredibly thankful for the people that make me laugh and smile each and every day and an opportunity to have them all together at one dinner table. Of course, I’m also thankful for great wine and the occasion to break out those special bottles and for Paula Deen and her indulgent sweets! I can barely wait for Thursday.
Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones. Open that special bottle and enjoy!
It just doesn’t feel right that Thanksgiving is next week. We’re just not in the holiday mode yet (despite the fact that the weather, tv commercials and retail stores are already getting Christmas into our heads). I remember back in the days when it used to be after Thanksgiving that we saw the holiday transformation happen.
Now is a good time to reflect on what to serve with your meals. I’m seeing more and more households move away from turkey, but whatever you choose to serve, be the hero and make a good wine pairing. A lot of us get caught into that ” I don’t want to bring great wine to be wasted on my aunt, who would just throw an ice cube in it anyways.” For me, being in the industry, I’m expected to bring good stuff, so I work to uphold my reputation. I’ve turned a lot of wine cooler/boxed wine people into budding wine snobs – they hate and love me at the same time…they can never go back to the bad stuff.
So, I encourage you to bring something good to the table. Educate; spread the wealth. If, after pouring Aunt Mary a great Zin or Chard and she tastes it then STILL reaches for the ice cubes…well, then she just gets jug wines from now on.
Save the date, Bay Area friends! On November 17th we’ll be at San Francisco hot-spot ZeroZero (826 Folsom) for a special Happy Hour appearance. Featuring some classic Montelena wines, and a few special surprises, it’s an event not-to-be-missed. Join us for some sips of your favorite Montelena wine or a new-to-you Montelena wine and stay for a scrumptious pizza hot out of the oven and cap off the evening with a sweet treat of soft-serve. It’s the best of both worlds: pizza and wine. We’ll be there from 6:00 to 9:00 – stop by and see us!
If you don’t have plans yet for the last weekend in January 2012, make some – quickly – and join us for House Party 2012. If you love wine, you can rest assured that we’ll be pulling out some incredible bottles from our cellar: current release wines, winery-only-wines (those that you can find only here at the winery) and even some special, older bottles that we’ve been saving for a special occasion. We’ll also have slow-roasted meats and the musical talents of the Bay Area’s own beloved Wonderbread 5 (if you know this band, you know we’re going to have a blast!). So I hope I’ve given you enough information to make it an easy decision that you need to get tickets and come party with us, but I understand you may be undecided about whether or not to stay here in Calistoga for the weekend or head back to the city. To make the decision a little easier, we’ve partnered with a few local hotels so you can not only enjoy our party, but you can enjoy all of Calistoga, too. Mention the “Chateau Montelena House Party” when you call to make reservations at either Stevenson Manor or Solage Calistoga.
So get your tickets, mark your calendar and come to party with us on January 28th. Then stay and take advantage of all that Calistoga has to offer – great food, mudbaths and spa treatments, fantastic wine and a down-home vibe that makes everyone feel right at home.
Wanting to pull out that 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet at sunset for friends? A perfect small bite to pair with this sumptuous red is a plate of warm gougères just out of the oven. Gougères traditionally are made with a choux pastry base. But who wants to fuss with making the pasty when guests are on the way over? Puff pastry sheets fit the bill. The versatility of this product should never be underestimated! The pastry sheets thaw quickly and can make easy work of impressing family and friends.*
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and center a rack in the oven.
Thaw one sheet of puff pastry in fridge or on the counter as directed on the package.
On a lightly floured stone counter top, roll the pastry to an 8 x 12 inch rectangle.
In two separate bowls, mix:
-one egg white and 2 T. milk
-any mixture of 3 T ea: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram, madras curry, dried dill, minced dried onion or shallot. Put together what pleases you. Add to this bowl: 1/3 c. grated gruyere or dry Vella Jack cheese, and a dash of black pepper or cayenne.
Brush the rolled square of pastry with the egg white mixture; then liberally sprinkle the mixture of herbs, seeds and cheese over the pastry. Press gently with your rolling pin, using a light touch.
Using a very small cookie cutter (1.25 inch diameter, or the top of a shot glass), stamp out the shapes. This should yield at least 2 dozen gougères.
Bake on a silpat mat or ungreased cookie sheet for 18-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden. These yummy bites freeze beautifully for up to a month…cool completely before wrapping and freezing. Reheat frozen gougères @ 400 degrees on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes, until warm and slightly crisp.
*Tip: Keep the boxes of puff pastry frozen until you’re ready to use. You can put a box in the fridge up to a day ahead if you like, but after a few days the sheets will develop a sour taste and will fail to rise properly.
So this Thursday, Oct 13th, at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square in San Francisco, we’ll be celebrating the unveiling of our new tasting room in the city which is situated in the lobby of this historic hotel. This hotel has a special place in my heart for a few reasons:
1:I used to work there.
2:It defines San Francisco and its storied past.
3:There are some wonderful people who work at that hotel; and have so through decades.
US Presidents, foreign dignitaries, movie stars, sports teams have all passed through the hotel’s doors. So, it was only natural that one of the historic wineries of California should partner with this hotel to be the first (and only?) winery to have a remote tasting room in the city. The party will celebrate the opening in style with current and library wines, an amazing array of canapes from the Culinary team, and all our closest friends at the winery.
Sorry to say it’s by invitation only, but if you have one of the golden tickets, be sure to RSVP now before it’s too late (which it will be tomorrow morning). The tasting room is open to the public from 1-8pm Wed-Sat. If you’re one of our Cellarmaster club members, your benefits will apply at our new location just as if you were visiting us here at the Chateau! Be sure to say hi to Ryan or Jonnie when you stop by…
We’ve been hard at work planning a new bash for the New Year. Introducting: House Party 2012 – Rock & Rotisserie. On January, 28, 2012, we’ll open up the Chateau for our first-ever House Party, where our guests will have the run of the place (and the first glimpse at our newly renovated cellar). Upstairs, downstairs – there will be food and wine around every corner. We’ll be featuring slow-cooked rotisserie meats (think: pig, lamb, poultry and beef) to enjoy along with the Montelena classics, a special collection of older vintage wines from our library, and even a few limited-production winery-only wines. Join us to eat, drink and be merry and then stay to party the night away, dancing to the music of San Francisco’s Wonderbread 5, at the first great party of the New Year. Rock and Rotisserie 2012 - we hope to see you there.
Tickets are on sale now – reserve yours today. It’s a perfect gift for someone special; a perfect occasion to celebrate once all the holiday parties have died out; a perfect excuse to come enjoy the beautiful Napa Valley for a weekend getaway; a perfect opportunity drink some great wine, dance to your favorite 80′s and 90′s hits and be merry. Whatever your reason for joining the party, we can’t wait to see you here!
There is nothing better for a do-ahead recipe than this easy-to-prepare carrot ginger soup. Of course, we have the 2010 Riesling in the chiller for warm harvest season nights …who wouldn’t love this off-dry lovely first glass alongside a starter of early autumn carrot soup? The ginger, lemongrass and orange zest pick up the natural bright floral notes and spicy finish of our crisp and refreshing Riesling. Serve them both chilled on a warm harvest evening!
- 1 large Vidalia or Maui onion large dice
- 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin floral green olive oil
- 4 Tbsp of minced fresh ginger
- 2lb. carrots, large dice
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 qt. chicken stock
- ¼ c. orange zest
- ¼ c. cilantro
- 2 T. lemongrass paste
- sea salt and ground white pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over medium heat in the bottom of stockpot. Add onions and cook until translucent; reduce heat as needed. Add celery, ginger and carrots and cook until soft and fragrant, about 7-8 minutes. Add stock, orange zest, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes, covered, on very low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lemongrass and allow to cool to room temperature.*
In batches, puree soup in blender (an immersion blender works in soup pot).
Thin with additional broth as needed. Season to taste with sea salt and white pepper.
*Do ahead tip: This soup is easy to make and very little prep is needed…refrigerate in a microwave-safe container for up to three days, and reheat to serve warm. In summer, this soup is delicious when served chilled with a dollop of greek yogurt or low fat sour cream, and, of course, our 2010 Chateau Montelena Riesling!
We’re kicking off the last, official week of summer (though the temperatures in Napa Valley yesterday didn’t seem to indicate the change in seasons!) and transitioning into fall…which makes me very happy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy summer and sipping great, light wines on the patio, because I definitely do! I just happen to love fall a little bit more. I like everything that fall represents – Halloween, Thanksgiving, cooler weather and cozy weekends, pumpkin spice lattes, boots and coats, warm soups and stews and the beginning of ski season. Most importantly, as a wine-lover, I am looking forward to the change in seasons because we’ll soon begin harvest here at the winery and that’s always the most exciting time of year. Sure, we’re a little late this year, but we’re expecting another great vintage as the grapes begin to come in. Fall of 2011 also marks the completion of the cellar upgrade and the Barrett family’s 40th vintage – so there’s a lot to celebrate this year! As the days begin to get a little shorter and the nights begin to get a little cooler, I’ll be embracing this new season and putting my patio wines away. I’m now looking forward to hearty meals, comfort foods and comfort wines. For me, that means our Estate Zinfandel – a great partner for chili, soups, roasted meats and spicy pastas (just a few of my favorite cool-weather meals). What are you looking forward to as summer turns to fall? What is your comfort wine in the cooler months?
So, a few weeks ago I mentioned the abundance of harvest from my garden. Well, it continues… Now, the tomatoes are coming in fast and furious just as squash is finishing up the growing season. And yes, I’ve found the most creative ways to get rid of squash – number one: charities.
I definitely had those heavy ambitions when we planted the tomatoes. Over 40 plants. I figured, ‘Eh, they’re small. We’ll see what we get.’ The more veteran farmers looked at me with a bit of disbelief, saying they planted 2 or 3 for their families, and that’s probably more than they’ll need. Ok, so now I am hauling away bushels of these beauties, and making lots of friends and family members very happy by sharing the bounty.
In one sense, it’s great – there’s nothing better than vine-ripened tomatoes. Even more so when you go to the store and see them at $5/lb!
I’ve learned my lesson…but next year, I’m sure I’ll do it all over again the same way!